Friday, April 1, 2011

Who Knew Boys & Girls Clubs Were So Cool?

CC investigates the music studio at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica.

Looking at the above picture of CC tickling the ivories, you might be forgiven for thinking she was in a music company's recording studio, or something along those lines.

What you might not know -- and what I certainly didn't know -- was that these facilities are available to children ages 7-18 at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, where we visited last week for an open house. And membership is only $20 per year. Yes, year!

Invited by fellow mom/writer Jennifer Vides, who serves as director of development at the Santa Monica branch, we toured the expansive facility, featuring the above studio; a tech room complete with Microsoft-donated computers, and robots; and a game room with Fussball, pool tables and places to just sit and relax.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect when we walked in. I had never been to a Boys & Girls Club and thought it might resemble a YMCA at best or a big room with just snack machines at worst. So I was more than pleasantly surprised when I found out that it offers a variety of after-school programs and activities for kids who might not have opportunities otherwise. And it's way cheaper than any Y I've visited.

Children can thrive in programs such as sports, technology and music, among others. Staff members are there to guide and encourage them, promoting valuable skills such as leadership in the process.

It was inspiring to watch, as young boys and girls built programmable robots and zoomed them around the floor. A B&G representative explained a PC rebuilding program, which after completing, kids can take home the computer they just repaired.

So cool!

And while the organization can always use donations to supplement the $20 per year fee, it's not just funds that they're looking for -- volunteers and experts are needed, too.

Vides explained that professionals are more than encouraged to come in and discuss their jobs and/or lead any hands-on experiences for the kids.

It's not just about the money, Vides said. Although that helps, too.

For more information about supporting Boys & Girls Clubs, click here.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica
1238 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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